September is almost over and the new season of competitive play has fired up these past few weeks! With the hiatus of the Circuit Series, I’ve been playing more and more of Konami’s format at regionals in Indianapolis and Chicago. With YCS Dallas quickly approaching, I wanted to begin testing the Nekroz deck I had planned to take to the event. With Norden finally legal in the TCG, I had developed a Nekroz deck based around Norden that slaughtered the mirror match and easily beat Qliphort, which was a deck I personally struggled against. Aside from being strong against the important match-ups, I was having a blast playing this new Nekroz variant, which was quite refreshing. Lets delve into my past two regional experiences and evaluate where I went wrong.
I actually was not sure if I was going to attend this event until the night before at 11:30pm when my friend Brad Larmie texted me saying he would drive and gas would cost next to nothing. With little preparation during the week, I took the list Samantha Mbodwam and I had prepared for her regional to this particular event.
Link to the deck list: http://i.imgur.com/Ax0MRkW.png
This particular Nekroz deck was designed to beat the mirror-match easily, because it had the emphasis on summoning Naturia Beast. With the downward trend of Dance Princess in Nekroz, I found the edge I was looking for in the mirror match (Naturia Beast). The rest of the deck was fairly standard, because I did not want to alter the consistency of the deck. Despite having a really strong mirror match, I failed to recognize this deck list’s biggest flaw. Sam and I didn’t want to main deck any forms of spell and trap removal because we felt the Performage engine would be strong enough to deal with floodgates. The clowns rarely proved to be a solution to floodgates, which cost me almost all of the game ones where my opponent’s had floodgates.
Losing game one is something you want to avoid when playing any deck, but it is extremely suboptimal if you are piloting Nekroz (You are forced to side-in more solutions to floodgate monsters/traps). There’s nothing wrong with using your side deck to assess problem cards in certain match-ups, but there is something wrong with having to side 5 or more cards in and giving up your deck’s consistency. Siding more cards to deal with floodgates will actually leave you with fewer cards to combo with, which is essentially what a floodgate’s job is anyways. Floodgates are used to prevent players from using their decks to their full potential; why would you try to solve the problem of a floodgate with cards that can literally halt your progression of the game?
After the Indianapolis regional I recalled a record number of Mistakes that were flipped on me, 15 to be exact. Only 3 times did I have the solution and two out of the three times my opponent had an additional Mistake. Interestingly enough, Vanity’s Emptiness wasn’t an issue as every player was comfortable with siding the card out (Even Qliphort players). The solution to Vanity’s Emptiness was so simplistic because it didn’t force me to alter my deck’s consistency because all I had to do was agree to not use the card myself. If only Nekroz players could ask their Burning Abyss opponents to side out all their copies of Mistake/Mistaken Arrest, would that not be amazing? Unfortuntely this isn’t a conceivable notion, which means Nekroz players will still have to give up consistency to out the other floodgates. If you remember nothing else, I cannot stress enough that over-siding in Nekroz is an extremely poor line of play.
Before I delve into what happened at this particular event, I would like to say that this was one of the worst regionals I have ever been to. Held in a store that could only fit 300 people, there was no room to play. If you wanted to know how much time was left in the round, well you actually just couldn’t because the judges didn’t know and there was no timer anywhere. I digress, going into this event I wanted to use a deck that could actually deal with floodgates game one and still use that same out as a combo piece; enter Shaddoll Dragon.
Link to deck list: http://i.imgur.com/rzqcZDg.png
Shaddoll Dragon was perfect because you could send it off of Mathematician and destroy any spell/trap variation of floodgate. Alternatively, Shaddoll Dragon could be used as tribute fodder for Valkyrus or any of the ritual spells. The first round of this event I played my friend Tevin, who was piloting a Hero deck. With a Darklaw on the field for the entire match I really could never get anything going the entire match. Every out I had to the Darklaw was paired with something to protect it, which infuriated me.
The round following this one was another Hero deck, but I ran through him because I was able to answer his Darklaw was Nekroz of Clausolas! It was at this point in the tournament that I realized nobody was really playing Nekroz anymore, which meant all of the cards I had in my main deck for the mirror match weren’t going to get me there. Playing behind against every other rogue deck was simply impossible because I was drawing cards to help me make Naturia Beast, when I didn’t even need to summon that monster in the corresponding match-ups.
It was only a matter of time before the incessant floodgates caught up to me, which just made me want to drop the event.
After two weekends of unsuccessful regional runs with Nekroz and ongoing discussion with Jeff, I've come to the conclusion that Nekroz may be one of the worst choices to play at the regional level. Nekroz is still the most powerful and consistent deck in the current metagame, but this is immensely overshadowed by the amount of hate that every other deck uses against Nekroz.
Jeff was the first one to propose to me that Nekroz was the worst choice to play at a regional level, and at first I disagreed because of how much better the deck is than everything else. However at that point in time, I wasn't really factoring in the amount of hate that Nekroz receives from every other deck. While cards like Denko Sekka, Royal Decree, and even Mystical Space Typhoon are capable of breaking through the backrow that is used against Nekroz, these same cards are not capable of dealing with monster floodgates.
This is not to say that there aren't solutions to the monster versions of floodgates; rather there aren't enough cards to side in and out without sacrificing your deck's consistency. Surely you wouldn't want to side in Royal Decree (or Denko Sekka), Dark Hole (and Raigeki if not mained), and Mystical Space Typhoon(s) because then you have to side-out a minimum of 7 cards for the cards that you have going in. Can you really find 7 cards that you are comfortable with taking out of your deck to deal with these floodgates? Most players answer this question with a "no".
While I had played Nekroz since the deck’s release and had a lot of success with it, I ultimately decided that it was time to move on. Playing the deck used to be enjoyable but now I’m completely burned out on playing the deck. Piloting Nekroz in the current metagame is like climbing a mountain, but there’s an avalanche every other step and if you don’t have something to hold onto you’re going to die. If you plan to play Nekroz at YCS Dallas or an upcoming regional event I would highly recommend that you main deck Denko Sekka or Mystical Space Typhoon(s) because while having combo pieces is important to winning, so is actually being able to combo.
These, among other reasons are why I joined Jeff in his Yang Zing quest for glory this past weekend at ARGCS Indianapolis. With hardly any time to prepare with Yang Zing due to various exams I just missed out on topping the main event at 21st, but Jeff certainly played better than I. With back-to-back ARG Indy championships, Jeff reigned supreme with Yang Zings! Stay tuned for next week’s article, where I will reveal my very own comprehensive guide on playing Nekroz. Similar to Patrick’s guide he released prior to the 25k, I plan to share my extensive guide I’ve developed on the deck. Ranging from various deck lists and combos I look forward to making the guide public! Until next time duelists, Play Hard, or Go Home!